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Italy into quarters as France exit
The world champions reach the final eight while Netherlands send Romania packing.
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2008 05:52 GMT

Goals from Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi booked Italy's place in the quarter-finals [GALLO/GETTY]

Italy, 2006 World Cup winners, have set up a tantalising Euro 2008 quarter-final meeting with Spain after defeating 10-man France 2-0 in Zurich.
 
In the other Group C match, Netherlands progressed through the first round with a perfect record thanks to a 2-0 win of their own over Romania in Bern.
The results mean that Netherlands finish top of the so-called "Group of Death" on nine points, having also scored an impressive nine goals in three games, Italy were second on four points, while Romania and France were eliminated without a win.
In Zurich, it was a nightmare first half for France who lost playmaker Franck Ribery to a suspected broken leg, gave away a penalty which was converted by Andrea Pirlo, and had defender Eric Abidal red-carded for the penalty offence.
 
Pirlo lashed home his penalty in the 25th minute after Abidal was dismissed for bringing down striker Luca Toni from behind as the Italian prepared to shoot.

"We've got a great group that really sticks together and has the right spirit."

Roberto Donadoni,
Italy coach
Daniele De Rossi made it 2-0 after 62 minutes when his shot that followed a rehearsed free-kick routine was deflected off France captain Thierry Henry, leaving goalkeeper Gregory Coupet wrong-footed.

Roberto Donadoni, Italy coach, said he never doubted his team would advance.

"I knew that it would turn out like this. We've got a great group that really sticks together and has the right spirit," Donadoni said.

"When we went 1-0 up there was a bit more tension than I expected but it is only human. In those moments as a coach you want to go on the field and help.

"I can't do it anymore, because if I run 40 metres I get a tear in my thigh."

Feeble France

France's woes began as early as the ninth minute when Ribery was seriously injured in a clumsy challenge on Gianluca Zambrotta.

He immediatly held his left leg in agony and was driven away on a medical cart with a suspected broken left leg.

In a bid to redress the balance of his side, France coach Raymond Domenech, sent on Samir Nasri to replace Ribery after 10 minutes, but then had to replace Nasri after Abidal's dismissal and brought on defender Jean-Alain Boumsoung.

The gap left by Ribery's absence allowed Italy to largely dominate in midfield and between them Pirlo, De Rossi, Gennaro Gattuso and Antonio Cassano created three good chances for Toni to score before halftime.

Fabio Grosso also went close when he struck a 43rd minute free kick which Coupet palmed on to his right-hand post.

Pirlo and Gattuso both received yellow cards, and are now suspended for Italy's quarter-final with Spain in Vienna on Sunday.

Romania out

In Bern, Romania blew their chance to go through to the quarters at the expense of Italy and France as they failed to overcome a Netherlands side that had nine changes from their previous match against France.

The match remained scoreless at halftime, before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted a chance on 54 minutes when he connected with a low left-foot drive from seven yards after a right-wing cross from Ibrahim Afellay.

Robin van Persie then made sure of victory with a fierce left-foot drive into the roof of the net with three minutes to go.

"Holland were the better team tonight and the better team in the group," Cosmin Contra, Romania defender, said.

"We had our chances to progress. People didn't give us a chance beforehand so we had a good tournament.

"I think we will go home with a lot more experience. We have a tough group to qualify for the 2010 World Cup but I think this tournament will give us a better chance."

The Dutch finished with a 100 per cent record at the top of Group C and will play Sweden or Russia in the quarter-finals.

Source:
Agencies
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